The later rounds of the state playoffs are always the site of the most tense, heated and hyped high school football of the season. Just how full a cornucopia of prep football did the Thanksgiving weekend hold? So full that it couldn't even fit in a single edition of the weekly RivalsHigh Weekend Watch. With that in mind, here's the best highlights of some of the best games involving some of the best teams in the nation, with a handful of state's deciding state titles -- and shaking up the RivalsHigh 100 -- in the process.
• No. 94 Page (N.C.) 41, No. 24 Mallard Creek (N.C.) 27: Page pulled off its second epic upset in two weeks, rallying from an early 12-point deficit to knock off top-25 squad Mallard Creek just a week after dumping defending champ Mathews (N.C.) Butler from the state tournament. Think maybe they're motivated by a lack of respect?
• No. 73 Cleveland (Ohio) St. Ignatius 17, No. 37 Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer 6: Whitmer could only manage one big play on offense all night, and it was quickly followed by a defensive statement for St. Ignatius. On the first drive of the second half, Whitmer running back Jody Webb torched the St. Iggy D on a 90-yard TD gallop, appearing to change the dynamic of the game in the process. Instead, St. Ignatius stuffed the subsequent two point conversion attempt and ran away with a surprising state semifinal win to earn a berth opposite Pickerington (Ohio) Central in the Div. I state title game.
• No. 100 Bolingbrook (Ill.) 21, Chicago (Ill.) Loyola Academy 17: Bollingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey had the kind of state final that a star would usually want to forget, turning the ball over four times. Yet he still walked out with a state champion's medal thanks to a 33-yard touchdown scramble with just more than five minutes remaining, pushing "The Brook" to Illinois' Class 8A state crown.
• No. 50 North Allegheny (Penn.) 28, No. 51 Upper St. Clair (Penn.) 21: These Pittsburgh-area rivals entered separated by only a single spot in the national rankings, so perhaps it's only fitting that they would finish with only a touchdown separating them, with North Allegheny emerging victorious with a gallant 1-yard touchdown run by Mack Leftwich in overtime.
• No. 79 Pickerington (Ohio) Central 14, No. 65 Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier 7: Anyone else get the impression that Ohio's Div. I state title game is going to come down to a defensive battle? Pickerington Central booked its berth in the title game at Canton's Fawcett Field on the back of a dominant defensive performance which was aided by a late 4th-and-4 conversion on the team's game-winning touchdown drive in the closing minutes.
• No. 80 Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County 32, No. 6 Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County 31: Talk about a gutsy call. With one of the biggest games in school history and a state semifinal berth on the line, legendary Colquitt County (and former Hoover Ala.) coach Rich Propst went for two and the win ... and was rewarded, all after a controversial interception by Camden which would have sealed the win was overruled. Of course, the win only guarantees that Colquitt will get another "game of the season" this week, when Propst and his troops face off against fellow nationally-ranked squad No. 12 Loganville (Ga.) Grayson.
• Blue Springs (Mo.) South 40, No. 70 St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers 37: It took a late defensive stop of all things to seal an offensively minded Blue Springs South victory, with a late Connor Harris interception sealing an upset win and state title for a Blue Springs South side that got hot at just the right time in the state tournament.
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